Rumely Oilpull

By Staff
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The March 2002 issue of GEM featured an article about an OilPull
tractor made by Art Harnich, Wayland, Mich. That article really
caught my attention, because Art had done exactly what I had been
wanting to do for years. In fact, I already had the rear wheels,
acquired at an auction 22 years ago with the intent of building a
tractor – but that was as far as I got. That is, until I read
Art’s story.

The Rest of the Story

The wheels I bought those 22 years ago came off a field
sprinkler system, and with their 3/8-inch needle bearings they were
ideal for a tractor. I also had the steering wheel I wanted, a nice
piece off an old road grader, but I still needed an engine. By
luck, a good friend, Steve Swanson, had the engine I wanted, a 3 HP
McCormick-Deering Model M. We negotiated on a price and I traded
him a #10-1/2 AC Gilbert Erector set from my collection. The engine
had been sitting in a shed unattended for the last four years, but
after two days of cleaning and oiling, the old Model M ran

I still needed a transmission, and another friend of mine,
Cedric Wille, stepped in, contributing the hydrostatic drive from a
Wheel Horse tractor he had. Actually, he gave me the whole tractor.
Then I needed something to make the framework out of, and two more
friends appeared. Harry Richter gave me some 4-inch channel iron
that came out of a remodeled butcher shop (he even delivered it!),
and his father, also named Harry, gave me the 1-1/2-inch round
steel (salvaged from an old car wash) I needed for the axles. With
the main materials collected, it was finally time to get

The rear wheels are 8 inches by 50 inches, so I let that dictate
the size of the tractor. The tractor I made is a replica of a
Rumely OilPull Model H 16-30. Finished weight is 1,800 pounds, and
the tractor is 10 feet long, 5 feet 3 inches wide and 7 feet 7
inches tall. If you count from the day I bought the rear drivers,
it took me 22 years, 5-1/2 months to build. My best friend, my wife
Pat, was very tolerant of this endeavor, provided I kept her
parking space in the garage open.

I am not going to tell you about all my mistakes I made or
problems I had dealing with issues like pulley sizes, gears,
sprockets, key ways, bushings, couplings, pillow blocks, spacers,
etc. Finding some of the parts was just a matter of searching –
with a sprinkling of dumb luck. The hardest part was matching the
front wheels to the rear. As luck would have it, I found just the
wheels I needed attached to a David Bradley mower sitting at a
roadside antique shop in Emerald Grove, Wis. The cost of the
tractor went up considerably at this point but I had no choice, as
they were an exact match for the rear wheels I had lovingly stored
for 22 years. Since finishing my OilPull I’ve added a pump and
piping for cooling. Water is pumped out of the hopper, through
heating fins in the cooling tower and then back to the top of the

And that’s the end of the story. The tractor runs fine, and
I want to thank my friends for all for their understanding and
support – I couldn’t have done it without them.

Contact engine enthusiast Dick Zander at: 1650 Elmdale Ave.,
Glenview, IL 60025.

Sourcing Parts and Thanking Friends

Putting it all together is only part of the challenge – it’s
finding the parts that can really define a project. This is only a
partial itemization of pieces and the places they were found.

Front wheel bolster: Construction scrap

Seat: Flea market

Towing rings: From roof-mounted heating

Cab walls: Ping-pong table

Belt rest: Driveway edging

Idler pulley: Made to suit

Radiator: Baseboard heating fins

And similarly, without friends, much of what we make would never
come together:

Leonard and Rob Steffen: Turning axle ends

Brian and Tim Zander: Assembly

Joeff Horigan: Fine tuning, engine timing

Boyd Zander: Structural and mechanical

Bob Hoffman: 20-30 owner/much needed advice

Leonard Zander: Cooling tower

Vole Merry: Wood for canopy

Joe and Kate Zander: Rumely information

Ray Zander: 22 years of free storage in his
Wisconsin barn

Gail Hintz: Photos

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